Professor Badass #2: Encounter on the Arabian Sea

Professor Badass #2: Encounter on the Arabian Sea

Having smote the shit out of the tiny band of raiders, the professor saw to the survivors of the caravan. He was hoping he wouldn't have to be bogged down with a big rescue effort, and fate seemed to be cooperating this time; the engine of the supply truck was intact, with one flat tire, and an undamaged spare.

The three men among the survivors went to work with the tire, while the remaining woman grabbed a first aid kit from the truck and walked over to the last breathing raider with a look of reluctance.
With things seeming well in hand, the Professor left the survivors to their repairs and ethical dilemmas without their noticing his departure.

The Remainder of his journey to the port city of Darwin was a smooth affair. Once there, It was a simple matter to book passage to the city of Mainport in four days and rent out a room with an internet connection. And finally, with a moment to rest, the Professor sat down with his pocket computer to learn about this world.

Accessing the wireless network would likely have been impossible if he wasn't using a PC of his own design; Thirty years is a stretch for traditional backwards compatibility. The computer's holographic display sprang to life above the passport sized console. Once connected, this world's own internet confirmed what his chronograph had told him when he first arrived. The professor had been thrown back in time to the year 2035.

Apparently, in this timeline, the city of Mainport was still necessitated by global catastrophe and the mass of refugees it created. The professor had heard the story before, both versions featured the Third World War. The Professor's version was a “minor” nuclear war that would have left Northeastern Africa completely untenable for Mainport, given its proximity to fallout from Saudi Arabia and Israel.

This world's war was an altogether more spiteful thing, however, with Diseases and even Nanomachines engineered to destroy crops and other flora, creating a global food crisis.
Mainport was born less of the necessity of fleeing fallout and more out of the efficiency of distributing food aid.

The arid State of Eritrea, a small country on the Red Sea between Sudan and Djibouti, decided to end their long string of wars with Ethiopia and famine and surrendered themselves to control by the United Nations. The prospect of becoming a refugee hub and global political hotbutton was seen as a significant improvement on their state of affairs.

The coastal city of Massawa was renamed “Mainport” and has since grown to be more populous than the greater New York area. Sadly, Eritrea's capital, Asmara, has seen a mass population exodus to Mainport, and Eritrea as a state essentially no longer exists. The former capital is said to be pretty rough these days.

Satisfied with his initial research, the Professor settles in for some well deserved chillin-the-fuck-out. With four days to kill, the Professor took his first day to unwind, and the second day decided to go take in the Darwin Symphony Orchestra on a lark.
Enjoying the short evening walk to the show, the Professor was struck by that old familiar feeling. The one where you feel eyeballs and fearful anger all over you.

Looking forward on the downtown sidewalk, the professor saw the plain-clothed, clean-cut man with cop hair. Glancing behind him, the Professor noticed a uniformed officer strolling casually 10 meters behind him.
Almost as if on cue, the police cruiser quickly pulls up next to him and the driver-side door opens.

“Evening, Professor Badass. Pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

Making a point of looking at both of the officers sharing the sidewalk with him, he replies “You seem to have me at a disadvantage”. Always good to foster a false sense of security in case it becomes useful later.

“Bradley, chief of police here in Darwin. We'll be needing to ask you a few questions.”

Holding on to his hope of leaving Australia without police pursuit, the Professor gets in the cruiser and is escorted to the station.
He could see fear in the faces of the officers, as well as the cops in the station. Fearful cops can be a bad thing in a situation like this, but then, they were apparently nervous enough that they didn't dare to search him.
Led straight to the chief’s office, Mr. Bradley starts giving him all kinds of information in the form of the questions he asks.
“So what's your real name Professor Badass?”

“Doesn't matter, you don't have me on record”

seeming annoyed at this response, the chief follows, “what the hell does that mean? Are you mercenary?”


“Illegal Immigrant?”


“Intelligence Agent?”

“Hell no.”


“Are we done here, officer?”


Taking a breath and seeming more frustrated by the moment, Bradley gives a resigned Sigh and continues.
“Look, 'Professor Badass', we've had reports of a man taking down a bandit Raiding party single-handed with methods that were, shall we say… unusual. The only info was the name, and YOUR description. Now would you know anything about that?”



The Professor was trying his best to look bored as he enjoyed himself.

“Look, mate, all I want to know is what the hell you're doing in my city.”

“Taking a ship to Mainport.”
Finally giving the straight answer he said he wouldn't, the Professor watched as the Chief’s face slowly brightened.

“Well hell, why didn't you say so? If you're heading for freak city, we'll send you on your way quickly then!”

“I have passage booked for Thursday”

“oh no no no, that won't do at all! A busy man like yourself certainly needs to be on his way as soon as possible. I'll find you a ship out of here before the night is out.”
Pressing the button on his intercom, the Chief calls for his subordinate.
In walks the extremely nervous subordinate, baton already in hand as if expecting it would do any good.

“Johnson, find this gentleman a boat to Mainport that leaves tonight”
then shifting focus back to the Professor, “I suggest you be on it.”

“anything you say, Officer Porkchop”
he replied, with a measure of menace in his voice equal to the chiefs own.

Unexpectedly, the response came from the subordinate, yelling “OI!” and raising his baton.
The Professor had had his hand resting on his vest since the nervous bastard walked in, and now he flicked his thumb to free the top button and widen his shield.
The young man froze, baton in the air when he saw the momentary shimmer of the professor's shield envelop his body.

As his baton slowly lowered, the Professor re-buttoned his vest and stood.
On the way out of the chief's office, he Said, over his shoulder, “I'll be needing a ride back to my hotel”
Not unaffected by the display, the chief stammers, “Sure… Sure…”
the Professor's last glimpse of the chief was through his office window as he berated his subordinate.

Returning to his hotel room and packing his things, the officer escorting him waited outside and came for him when they found a ship. Luckily, they'd be able to bring his bike as cargo.
Less luckily, his accommodations on the ship WAS the cargo hold. The devious pigs had arranged passage on a food supply ship.

The Days of the two week trip passed uneventfully. The Professor made nice with the crew, volunteered for a bit of busy work where they were short-handed, then called in the favors to secure some tools that he could use for a makeshift overhaul of his motorcycle. He wouldn't be able to test the upgrades until the were back on land, but at least the thing wouldn't be quite such a clunker.
They apparently heard the “Professor Badass” moniker from the cops before departure and used it like his title. He hoped this nickname of his wasn't going to follow him all the way to Mainport.

Ten days into the journey, and they'd made it to the Arabian Sea, and were nearing the Gulf of Aden. It was after midnight, and the professor was putting the finishing touches on his bike when he heard the sounds of someone in the cargo hold with him. The hairs on the back of the Professor's neck stood up on end when he heard the noise, and he sensed that something was very wrong.

Any person with the bodily ether charge necessary to perform magic can sense things, but for a man of science like the Professor, it was a frustratingly inexact science. At this moment, the Professor sensed nothing in the direction the sound came from, which is exactly what was disturbing. Something had made that noise towards the front of the cargo hold, and yet not only was there no human ether trace coming from that direction, but the space was absent of ether altogether.

Moreover, he could feel all the either in the cargo hold being drawn in that direction, as if by a gravity well. He felt all this with a disturbing LACK of the usual ambiguity of ether senses. Rushing in the direction of the disturbance as quickly and quietly as he could, the professor stopped dead when he saw a light silhouetting a figure in the darkness ahead. Having no desire to rush headlong into danger in the middle of an ether vacuum, the Professor ducked behind a crate and drew on of his inventions from his pant's pocket: the Scry-bot.

The object was the size and shape of a rubik's cube, with three dials on the different sides for controling the flying probe in three dimensions. Of course, the cube was just the controller; the actual Scry-bot docked to the top of the controller where it sat invisible and intangible. Building the floating probe had been easy, getting it into the astral plane had been the trick.

Sending out the probe, the Professor quickly reacquired the silhouette at the very front of the cargo hold. As the Probe approached the man, the Professor could see that he was a brown skinned man, barefoot, yet wearing a suit. His arms were outstretched, with his left hand holding some kind of fleshy tube, a peace of entrail perhaps. In his right was a live rat.

He switched the Scry-bot to ether display mode, and the man suddenly disappeared from view. The rat appeared to float in the air with the normal ether charge of a living creature, while the tube of flesh resonated some kind of energy that registered with the ether viewer, but only as a gibberish mass of error data on the display screen. Then suddenly, the two objects seemed to whirl around and switch places.

Desiring to know what the ether-less man was doing, the Professor switched back to visual light view, only to find that the black man had spun and was staring directly at the Scry-bot, as two blood droplets ran down from his eyes. Taking the fleshy tube in his mouth, the man lunged at the Scry-bot. The last image it transmitted being the palm of his hand before the controller cube itself shut down with a *BWEEEEOOOOooooooooo* indicating the ether battery had suddenly died.

Re-pocketing the controller and drawing his spell gun, the professor sprinted in the direction of the ether-less man, but he was nowhere to be found. Instead, where he had been standing, the Professor found the rat, strangled with the fleshy tube and hung on the bulkhead at the front of the ship. It was at this point, with a closer look, that the Professor realized that the fleshy tube was an umbilical cord of the correct proportions to be of a human.

In the same moment, the Professor felt the strange energy that had so confused his probe's ether view. To the inexactness of human ether sense, the energy could only be described as pure headache. It radiated from the totem before him, far stronger than it had been when he viewed it at a distance, and it was spreading.
He could feel the strange energy permeate the ceiling and begin to contaminate all the surrounding bulkheads. Not daring to touch the totem, the professor felt the taint spread to the bulkhead portion that was at his height, where he touched it and immediately regretted doing so.

Shipwreckshipwreckshipwreckshipwreckshipwreck rats running from water shipwreckshipwreckshipwreck a boat colliding with a reef shipwreckshipwreck slowly sinking shipwreckshipwreck rats drowning shipwreckshipwreckshipwreck desperate for air shipwreckshipwreck a torpedo hurling towards a warship shipwreckshipwreckshipwreckshipwreck a pregnant woman, hanged, with her baby dangling beneath her by its umbilicus shipwreckshipwreckshipwreck a cargo ship, colliding head on with a deralict SHIPWRECKSHIPWRECKSHIPWRECK

Breaking the connection, the Professor nearly vomited from what he had seen, what he had FELT. But the vision was not terribly difficult to understand by the standards of an experienced magician. This totem was a curse, the final image was particularly intense, so it would seem that this curse intends to act by guiding the ship into a derelict to sink it with all hands.
Who the hell was that man?

He felt that the totem was no longer dangerous, but its damage was done. The very walls of the ship were now cursed to doom it. Sprinting now to the upper decks, the Professor pounded on the two adjacent doors of the captain and first officer. The First officer was the first to respond. “jesus man, what is it? D'you have any idea the time?”

“there is an intruder on the ship!”

“the hell are you talking about?” the first officer said, yawning.

Wishing the man would wipe the sleep from his eyes, the Professor continued, “I saw a man in the cargo hold. He disappeared when I approached him, but he was… tearing wires from a panel labeled 'navigation'. He must have been some kind of saboteur”
A lie, of course, but it was important that the situation be understood in a way that was plausible to the magically uninitiated.

“we've a guard up on the top deck, nobody could get in here”

“one guard for the whole upper deck, and you're saying nobody could slip past?” the Professor hoped that this was interrupted sleep talking rather than a dangerous level of incompetence.

“You saying our watchman doesn't know how to do his job?”
Shit. Apparently the latter.

“OI! What's this then? Explain the racket!” the captain finally made his way to the door, smelling like a newborn hangover.
“SIR! Our little charter boy here says he saw a ghost, what did some sabotaging and disappeared.”

confused, the professor tried to interrupt “wait, that's not what I-” but wait. Something wasn't right here. As the Captain accepted his first officer's explanation and began to scold the professor for waking him, the professor realized what felt wrong. The weird, headache inducing ether. It began to saturate this area as soon as he began to deliver his warning.
This curse was powerful enough to induce extreme incompetence in the face of any effort to warn the doomed away from their fate.
Who the hell was that man with the bleeding eyes? The Professor had never seen magic of this power and intricacy.

Disregarding the two men, who he now understood to be little better than thralls, the professor took off at a run for the bow of the ship.
Upon arriving, he strained his eyes to see any hazard that might lay ahead, but the night was a new moon, and overcast to boot.
Again drawing his spell gun, he exchanged one of the attack spells for a light spell, which would function as a flair.

Activating the spell gun, it took a full ten seconds to charge even for such a simple spell due to the remaining ether vacuum of the mystery man. But finally, a sharp squak sounded, which the Professor knew to be the word “lux” sped up, and a tiny sun flew forth from the spell gun's emitter.

Shielding his eyes, the Professor scanned the horizon, and sure enough, recognized the outline of a derelict ship directly in the cargo ship's path. Knowing that the curse would prevent the bridge crew from acting on his warnings, the professor had two minutes to devise his plan before impact.

While he had the spells and ether charge necessary to scuttle the derelict, nothing would sink it quickly enough to prevent impact; not to mention having the impact low and scraping below the waterline would only sink the cargo ship faster.
It seemed that his only option was the either stop the ship, or break through the derelict by force.

Working quickly, the Professor holstered his spell gun and planted his feet on the metal deck. Intoning “AFFIGO” while focusing on his feet, he bound them immovably to the deck. To prepare for the physical strain of a feat of this magnitude, the Professor next readied his body with an intonation of “FERRUM CORPUS”, causing his bone, muscle, and skin to adopt the durability of iron.

Now with the Derelict bearing down on him, the professor took the final step in his preparation. He unbuttoned all three of the fasteners on his vest. Unbuttoning one fastener would expand the vest's shield spell to envelop the entire body, two would create a decent sized bubble that could be used to protect a group, but fully unfastening the vest unleashed the shield to around the radius of a city block, while also increasing the ether drain to strengthen the shield so it would still be relevant in such a dispersed state.

Luckily, the cargo ship was heading towards the port side of the derelict, so the shield would have greater area to push against. When the impact came, the professor still wasn't prepared for it. The sheild would push harder the closer something came to the professor, so the force pushing him back started strong and became geometircally more so. Were it not for the iron body spell, his body would have been torn from the deck at the knee.

But still, the force of the incoming ship was too much. The professor began to lean backwards, knowing full well that the cargo ship's own engines were working to make this harder. The deralict had begun to move in the direction the cargo ship was now pushing it, and the Professor lent more of his ether charge to his vest to bolster the sheild bubble, but he was still barely holding on. At his physical limit, the professor quickly intoned one last spell. Barely able to speak, he shouted “CATENA” as huge magical chains sprung from his arm and neck to fasten him to the guard rails to his front and side.

Now fastened at five points, Professor Badass focused his energy on maintaining the spells and sheild, letting his iron body bear the weight limply, and gasped in relief when a thunderous CRACK accompanied a sharp reduction in the pressure on his shield and body.
The sound came from the ship in front of him, as the deck of the deralict split in two, followed by the entire ship splitting in half.

Then, with a final push, the cargo ship broke through and parted the derelict as it went; unharmed save for the guard rails bent towards the Professor, and the craters his footprints had become.
Watching the two halves of the derelict float by, they suddenly glowed brightly as if instantly lit on fire. A moment later, the flowing pieces of the derelict flew into the air, speck by speck and disappeared into the night. The Professor could feel that the taint on the ship had been cleansed as well, and promptly fell backwards into sleep, his ether completely exhausted.

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